The Joel Parker Whitney Pyramid Mausoleum and the Hearst Family Tomb are two of California’s many unique tombs and crypts.
There are other unusual tombs in California that aren’t as enigmatic and have a little more curb appeal than the stereotype of Lara Croft or Indiana Jones going through a stone-walled, spider-infested room that comes to mind when people hear the term “tomb.”
The Golden State is home to thousands of tombs and mausoleums, but here are five that stand out.
The Joel Parker Whitney Pyramid Mausoleum – Rocklin
A granite pyramid that houses Joel Parker Whitney and other members of the Whitney family is situated close to the 11th-hole green of the Whitney Oaks Golf Course.
The mid-1880s tomb, which is 15 feet high and 40 feet broad at its base, is enclosed by The Fort, a granite rock wall Whitney built when his children were still small. The tomb is the most recent man-made structure there.
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On a large granite rock outside the fort, behind the grave, are many ancient Nisenan mortars that date back thousands of years.
Given Whitney’s interest in pyramidology since visiting the 1867 Paris Exhibition, the choice of a pyramid as the shape of the tomb was not arbitrary. In order to attract investors for Colorado mining and real estate, where he would ultimately make much of his riches, Whitney went to the show.
Whitney was interred in the pyramid after passing away at the age of 78 in January 1913. Over time, the tomb also included 17 more of his relatives.
Frederick Delger Mausoleum – Oakland
Frederick Delger, rumoured to be Oakland’s first millionaire, doesn’t appear to have spent any money building his gothic-style mausoleum at Mountain View Cemetery.
The Charles Crocker Mausoleum is near to the Fulgenzio Seregni-designed monument on Millionaire’s Row at the cemetery. The Colton Mausoleum is the only other mausoleum built by Seregni that is located on the property.
Delger, who had recently relocated to the Bay Area from New York in the early 1860s, wasted no time in making his wealth. He invested in a shoe and leather goods company as well as Oakland real estate, and by the end of the decade, he had collected fortune.
He built his estate with amenities including an aviary, water tower, greenhouse, and honeymoon cabin to accommodate his large family.
Several people of Delger’s family were also laid to rest inside the mausoleum.
Sahlberg Pyramid – Santa Barbara
The Sahlberg pyramid tomb, where none of its entombed have any evident link to Santa Barbara, is tucked amidst the headstones of the Santa Barbara Cemetery.
The Esperanzo Gold Mine in El Oro, Mexico was owned by August Sahlberg and Thomas Quirk, who also bought the site for the pyramid in 1902.
Sahlberg passed away in 1903, a year before the tomb’s completion, at the age of 34. In 1897, his mother passed away. Both were positioned within the tomb.
Sahlberg’s family friend Emma Rigby and one of Sahlberg’s brothers were buried together in the tomb.
Quirk was buried in the tomb in 1912. His wife Nellie, their daughter, and a man who was thought to be her future husband took the other three slots.
The three fought to maintain their position in the pyramid before following Quirk into the tomb.
Mary E. Hindry, whose husband Willis Hindry was buried outside the tomb, confirmed in 1931 that he had the right to be buried inside the pyramid.
The man’s remains was kept in the tomb for a year so Hindry would have time to gather the documentation proving that her husband belonged there.
After learning of the man’s admission into the tomb, Nellie Quirk feared that if he were to remain there, her daughter, her potential future spouse, and herself would not have a place to live.
Hindry couldn’t because of get the documents by the one-year deadline and Willis Hindry’s body was removed from the tomb.
Hearst Family Tomb – Colma
It may not be shocking to learn that one of the most affluent families in California history has a tomb that is unmatched by many others.
Phoebe Hearst, George Hearst’s wife, ordered the Hearst family tomb, which is now housed in the Cypress Lawn Funeral Home and Memorial Park, in 1896.
The tomb, which has 16 granite columns, was built by Albert Schweinfurth as a replica of the Temple of Athena Nike on the Acropolis.
William Randolph Hearst, along with his parents George and Phoebe Apperson Hearst, are buried in the tomb.
The Great Mausoleum – Glendale
This huge monument, which is part of Glendale’s Forest Lawn Memorial Park, houses the remains of numerous well-known individuals.
The architecture of this enormous building is a tribute to both Gothic churches in France and England as well as ancient Greece.
1917 saw the conception of the original four-terrace building, and by May of that year, work had started on the first terrace.
However, things would change as a result of the necessity for a large space to house works of art commissioned in Europe. To contain these achievements, the Memorial terrace was built in the manner of a European church.
After a bridge was constructed to link the 1940 additions to the terraces with the older structures, construction was completed in 1970.
Elizabeth Taylor, Michael Jackson, and Clark Gable are among those who are buried within the Great Mausoleum’s tombs and vault.